CLUTE, Texas - Brazoswood High School is a place full of valuable lessons including an important one taught by Joel Mireles, a senior who, if you ask him, will say he's no one special.
"I'm just an average student," said Mireles, "not a lot of students know me."
However, after his response to bullies started going viral online, there are a whole lot of people who say he's special indeed.
Three weeks ago, the Thespian decided to run for homecoming king although he never thought he'd win.
"Typically it's someone who's in athletics or usually it's football," Mireles explained.
But he tried hard anyway, hanging handmade posters, and handing out candy and donuts to his peers. Much to his surprise Mireles did win the highly coveted title by popular vote.
"I was shocked. I didn't really know what to do. Then one of the members of student council put the crown on me." he said.
It was an awesome night but then the next day rolled around.
"My friends kept showing me all these posts on social media that were really negative about me." he said.
You see, Joel is gay. A fact that shouldn't matter but for this story it does.
A few students decided to target Joel online because of it - with the hashtag "Not My King", even creating a t-shirt people could buy.
"'I didn't want to go eat lunch because I thought people were looking at me so I stayed in the theater classroom and told my mom to come pick me up early." he said.
Although this bullying hurt, the sting didn't last long.
"It's just passed over and I just realize it didn't matter."
Shortly after, Mireles decided to buy the shirt for himself, even paying extra for expedited shipping, then showed up to school wearing the #NotMyKing shirt and his crown.
"I just thought, if I bought one, it would be a statement saying, 'This isn't affecting me and you guys aren't hurting me'." he said.
The picture was posted online and shared hundreds of times with comments from strangers and classmates who find Joel's courage contagious.
"The majority have been really supportive and that feels really good." he said.
King for a day and true to himself for life.
"I just want him to be him," said his mother, Molly Salinas, "That's all I've ever wanted is for him to be him."
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